Ronnie Screwvala

Rohinton Soli “Ronnie” Screwvala (born 8 September 1956) is a first generation Indian entrepreneur.

He has been named on Esquire‘s List of the 75 Most Influential People of the 21st Century and ranked 78 among the 100 most influential people in the world on the Time 100 (compiled by Time Magazine, 2009). He was also listed amongst 25 Asia’s Most Powerful people by Fortune Magazine. and titled the Jack Warner of India by Newsweek.

Based in Mumbai, India, Ronnie pioneered Cable Television, built a Media and Entertainment conglomerate (UTV Software Communications) that partnered with News Corp20th Century FoxThe Walt Disney Company and Bloomberg and later in 2012, he divested the company to Disney for an enterprise value of US$1.4 billion.

From 2013 onwards, he and his wife scaled their Non-Profit The Swades Foundation whose goal is to work with a million people in rural India, empower them and move them out of poverty every 6–7 years and then move to another geography.

He has co-founded UpGrad which is into Online Education in the higher education and specialization sector, built a Sports company (U Sports) spanning Football / E Sports and Kabaddi, re-entered the media content space to build a creative content company in Movies and Digital Content (RSVP), authored a Book titled Dream with Your Eyes Open and through his investment company Unilazer Ventures he has been a significant private equity investor in Indian start ups with early stage investment and significant minority stakes.

 

Early life and education

Screwvala was born in Bombay into a Parsi family. His father was an executive at the British firm J L Morrison and Smith & Nephew. Screwvala schooled and went to college in Mumbai at Cathedral and John Connon School and Sydenham College. Screwvala had a keen interest in theatre while in school and acted in professional plays with Bombay theatre as a hobby. He played notable roles in Shakespeare’s Othello and Death of a Salesman.

Personal life

Screwvala is married to Zarina Mehta, his second marriage. Zarina has been a co-founder in the media company UTV they founded, and now is the co-Trustee of their Philanthropic foundation; The Swades Foundation. They live in Breach Candy, South Mumbai. His first wife, Manjula Nanavati and Screwvala have one daughter, Trishya Screwvala, who runs her own Not For Profit, The Lighthouse Project, and who is married to sports commentator Suhail Chandhok.

Early days

Opportunistic in the early days of his entrepreneurship, Screwvala founded a toothbrush manufacturing company. Screwvala’s is also credited with pioneering Cable TV in India (1981) at a time when there was a single terrestrial channel (Doordarshan) and grew that to multiple cities and most of the hotel chains in India.

United Television (UTV) 1990-2012

Screwvala founded UTV and over the period grew it into a media conglomerate spanning a leading movie studio, a Games Studio and creative content company that went public and listed on stock exchanges in 2005 and into which Disney gradually took a substantial stake until he divested the whole company to them in 2012.

 

2013 onwards

The Swades Foundation

Along with his wife Zarina, Ronnie has founded The Swades Foundation, named after the acclaimed film he produced, whose goal is to lift a million people out of poverty.

Presently, Swades is active in Raigad district in the state of Maharashtra in two thousand villages and involving half a million people. It is working on Water, Sanitation, Health, Education and the main focus is on Livelihood opportunities.

upGrad

Screwvala co-founded upGrad, which is one of the largest Online Education companies in India – focused on the higher Education and Specialization sector. They focus majorly on Digital MarketingData Analytics, Digital Technology Management, Data Driven Management and Product Management. upGrad has tie-ups with several colleges including MICA.

USports

Screwvala co-founded U Sports with a focus on three sports, Kabaddi a popular sport in India and around Asia (his team U Mumba is one of the top teams in the 12 team ProKabaddi League), E Sports and in Football where under the brand U Dreams the focus is to train and manage talent under various years of age for a sustained duration, and then manage their careers for the long term to play professionally in India and globally.

RSVP Movies

RSVP is Screwvala’s re-entry into the media and entertainment industry. This time is focussed on developing its own scripts and screenplays and working with directors that share the common vision of storytelling.

Unilazer

Unilazer was incorporated by Screwvala as a private equity company that has made investments in the Indian new economy companies and start-ups, with early stage investments with significant minority stake as also bringing with him his entrepreneurial experience to the founders. The sectors in which Unilazer has invested range from e commerce to a leading online eyewear company in India, and from AI and Bots to Agriculture to Microhousing Finance.

Filmography

Films

The following is a list of films produced/ co-produced by Screwvala[24]

Year Title
1998 Such a Long Journey
1997 Dil Ke Jharoke Main
2000 Fiza
2004 Lakshya
2004 Swades
2005 D
2005 Main, Meri Patni Aur Woh
2005 The Blue Umbrella
2006 Rang De Basanti
2006 Chup Chup Ke
2006 The Namesake
2006 Khosla Ka Ghosla
2007 I Think I Love My Wife
2007 Hattrick
2007 Life in a Metro
2007 Dhan Dhana Dhan Goal
2008 Phir Kabhi
2008 Jodhaa Akbar
2008 Aamir
2008 The Happening
2008 A Wednesday
2008 Poi Solla Porom
2008 Welcome to Sajjanpur
2008 Fashion
2008 Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye!
2009 Dev D
2009 Delhi-6
2009 Dhoondte Reh Jaaoge
2009 ExTerminators
2009 Harishchandrachi Factory
2009 Agyaat: The Unknown
2009 Kaminey: The Scoundrels
2009 Aagey Se Right
2009 What’s Your Raashee?
2009 Main Aurr Mrs Khanna
2010 Chance Pe Dance
2010 Peepli Live
2010 Udaan
2010 I Hate Luv Storys
2010 Phillum City
2010 Paan Singh Tomar
2010 Guzaarish
2010 Tees Maar Khan
2011 No One Killed Jessica
2011 7 Khoon Maaf
2011 Thank You
2011 Delhi Belly
2011 Chillar Party
2011 Deiva Thirumagal
2011 Muran
2011 My Friend Pinto
2012 Vazhakku Enn 18/9
2012 Grandmaster
2012 Arjun: The Warrior Prince
2012 Rowdy Rathore
2012 Mugamoodi
2012 Barfi!
2012 Heroine
2012 Husbands in Goa
2012 Thaandavam
2013 ABCD (Any Body Can Dance)
2013 Kai Po Che!
2013 Himmatwala
2013 Settai
2013 Ghanchakkar
2013 Chennai Express
2013 Satyagraha
2014 Naan Sigappu Manithan
2014 Sigaram Thodu
2014 Peter Gaya Kaam Se
2015 Yatchan
2018 Love per Square Foot
2018 Lust Stories
2018 Karwaan
2018 Pihu
2018 Kedarnath
2019 Uri: The Surgical Strike
2019 Sonchiriya
2019 Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota
2019 The Sky Is Pink
2019 Bhangra Paa Le
2019 Raat Akeli Hai
2020 Ghost Stories

Television

Year Title1 Notes
1994–1998 Shanti
1997–1998 Sea Hawks
1998 Saaya
1998–2001 Hip Hip Hurray
2000–2004 Shaka Laka Boom Boom
2000 For Better or For Worse executive producer
2001–2003 Sarhadein
2002–2008 Bhabhi
2002–2005 Kehta Hai Dil
2002–2004 Khichdi executive producer
2003 Salanam
2003 Toad Patrol Miscellaneous crew
2003–2007 Shararat
2004–2006 Meher
2004 Rooh
2004–2005 Special Squad
2005 Bombay Talking
2005–2007 Hero – Bhakti Hi Shakti Hai
2005–2006 Sanya executive producer
2006 Kabhie To Nazar Milao

Awards

Year Award Category Film
2007 National Film Awards Best Popular Film Providing Wholesome Entertainment Rang De Basanti
2007 Filmfare Awards Best Film
2009 Jodhaa Akbar
2013 Barfi!
2007 IIFA Awards Best Film Rang De Basanti
2009 Jodhaa Akbar
2013 Barfi